United Kingdom facts and figures

United Kingdom

Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century,
played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing
literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth
of the earth’s surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK’s strength
seriously depleted in two World Wars. The second half witnessed the dismantling
of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European
nation. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding
member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach
to foreign policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration
with continental Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside the
European Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also
a significant issue in the UK. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly
for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999.

Location:

Western Europe, islands including the northern one-sixth of the island of
Ireland between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, northwest of France

Area:

total: 244,820 sq km

water: 3,230 sq km

note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands

land: 241,590 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 360 km

border countries: Ireland 360 km

Climate:

temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic
Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast

Land use:

arable land: 26.41%

permanent crops: 0.18%

other: 73.41% (1998 est.)

Population:

60,094,648 (July 2003 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)

adjective: British

Languages:

English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic
(about 60,000 in Scotland)